Three reviewed for this challenge this quarter! Still a long way to go though….
The Book List – Books to Read Before You Die
A Mercy by Toni Morrison. As Rebekka Vaark lies sick, possibly dying, of smallpox, we learn of the people who make up the household — how they came to be there, how they live, the relationships between them. And we get a picture of the birth of America, built with the blood and toil of those who came voluntarily and those who were brought against their will.
Beautiful writing, excellent characterisation. The Pearl by John Steinbeck. One day, poor pearl fisherman Kino finds a huge and lustrous pearl, so valuable that it will change his life for ever. But when word spreads of his find, human greed will work its evil, dragging Kino into a nightmare. He really should have eaten more chocolate.
Walking Wounded by William McIlvanney. McIlvanney takes to the short story form to create a collection of character studies of the inhabitants of his recurring setting of fictional Graithnock. Thank you for joining me on my reading adventures and…. Pia has always been the leader, the one who holds the group together and who pushes them to step out of their normal routine once a year and take risks. This time she assures them their guide is experienced and knows the river well. It turns out Ryan is a twenty-year-old student with the looks of a Greek hero and enough confidence to persuade the more reluctant members of the group to trust him.
Big mistake. Soon enough they run into trouble when their raft is lost and one of their party is killed. We have the usual group of people with pre-existing tensions that will come to the fore when danger threatens. We have the ubiquitous current trend of women discovering how strong and resilient they truly are under adversity. Ferencik relies on the quality of her writing and characterisation to carry the thing off, and on the whole she succeeds pretty well. The four women are well drawn, each with a distinct personality, and the dynamics of their friendship rings true, with the little petty annoyances and resentments that build up in any small group over time but underpinned by genuine affection and a history of mutual support in bad times.
Ryan, the guide, is also reasonably believable, though at every point I felt he came over as older than his supposed age of twenty — he felt too mature and adult to be that age but that may be a sign of my own age! The baddies, on the other hand, are ridiculously over-the-top, and their back-story left me totally unconvinced.
Sadly I thought they were a real weakness in the plotting, neither credible nor realistic. Ferencik writes well, both in the slower passages when she is revealing her characters to the reader and in the fast-action sequences which grow and escalate as the book goes on. Too much swearing, of course, none of it necessary and adding nothing to either story or character. So a mostly good example of a fairly formulaic thriller, let down a little by the unbelievability of the baddies. I enjoyed reading it, but hope she does something a little more original next time — I believe she has the talent, she just needs to find a better plot.
Recommended, though, as an entertaining read overall. I know exactly how he feels! He has a theory as to why Karl has no original inspiration…. That is what is shutting up the avenues of your intellect. You must get thinner! You do not lack science, but ideas, and it is very simple; if you pass your whole life covering the strings of your violin with a coat of grease how can they vibrate? Since matter oppresses the mind I will starve myself.
He sets off on a long walking journey and, after several weeks of strenuous exercise and little food and drink, is considerably thinner but still uninspired. One evening, after a long day of walking, he is tired and night is falling…. Just then he perceived by the light of the moon an old ruined inn half-hidden in trees on the opposite side of the way; the door was off its hinges, the small-window panes were broken, the chimney was in ruins.
Why not? Yes, we must, Karl! They never listen, do they? Still, once he gets past the thuggish axe-carrying innkeeper and his mad chicken-hugging daughter into the badly-lit half-bare room with only a small fire, things begin to look up…. What have you got? However, later that night, in the loft that is his bedroom, he is awoken suddenly by the sound of a deep sob. He sees a man, a skeleton almost, lifting a violin and beginning to play…. There was in this ghostly music something of the cadence with which the earth falls upon the coffin of a dearly-loved friend.
Another lovely mix of humour and mild horror in this one! And on that level it works very well. This one is a fairly standard ghost story, but Karl is a likeable hero. The porpentine felt in the need of a feast after this…. A devastating nuclear war has been fought across the world, wiping out almost all life. Only in the far South have people survived, so far, but they know that the poisonous fallout is gradually heading their way and the scientists have told them there is nothing they can do to save themselves. We follow a group of characters in the city and suburbs of Melbourne as they figure out how to spend their last few months of life….
You can read the full book review by clicking here …. In terms of action and even dialogue, the film stays pretty close to the book for the most part, but there are some differences that I felt changed the emphasis and tone quite a bit. It jarred with me throughout that in the movie the vast majority of the main characters speak with American accents. I cannot lie — I got very tired of Waltzing Matilda by the time the film was finished.
Ava Gardner is about twenty years too old for the character of Moira, so that, instead of a young innocent drinking and playing the field to ward off thoughts of her impending death with her life unlived, we have an older woman who has been drinking and playing the field for decades before the war even began.
- Books Set In Alabama: Alabama Books.
- Knowledge Representation.
- Books Set In Alabama: Alabama Books - Tale Away?
The woman who plays Mary, Donna Anderson — hmm. As much as warning of the dangers of nuclear holocaust, it seemed to me the book was speculating on how humanity, knowing that its end was inescapable, would deal with its own demise.
The film somehow keeps trying to inject hope where in the book there is none, I think in an attempt to create some suspense. The mystery of the invisible baby!
Mary, in the book, chooses to go into denial. In the film, she more or less goes insane, at one point becoming almost catatonic.
What do you think?
It added nothing and was less psychologically interesting. In the book, Shute describes how the people of Melbourne cope with daily existence as shortages grow, and their domestic concerns as death approaches — things like what to do about their farm animals and pets, how long to continue going to work, how to cope without milk and petrol and so on. But the biggest and worst change is the relationship between Dwight and Moira.
In the book, Dwight, rather like Mary, chooses in light of his own impending death to go on as if they are alive and will all die together, and be together in some form of afterlife. This prevents him from being able to fall in love with Moira as she wishes. In the film, Hollywoodisation demands romance, so they fall in love. The fact that Dwight so easily gets over his wife cheapens and lessens him as a character — a terrible mistake. The end is also changed for no reason that I could think of.
In the film, he and his crew sentimentally set out for home, wishing to die in America. In the film, she watches him leave her, not out of a sense of duty but out of some kind of sickly sweet patriotism.
You know, before I started writing this I was intending to give the film five stars — I did enjoy watching it. So now I feel quite generous giving it four.
Points of Interest
When old Mrs McGinty is brutally killed in her own parlour, suspicion quickly falls on her lodger, the rather unprepossessing James Bentley. All the evidence points in his direction, and he is duly charged, tried and convicted. With the police case closed, he takes his concerns to his old friend Hercule Poirot, asking him to investigate with a view to either turning up evidence that will clear Bentley or alternatively finding something that will reassure Spence the right man has been convicted.
But Poirot must hurry, before Bentley goes to the gallows…. This is yet another great mystery from the supremely talented Ms Christie. First published in , she was still at the height of her formidable plotting powers and had that ease and occasional playfulness in her style that always makes her books such a pleasure to read. Oliver crossly. I must have been mad! Why a Finn when I know nothing about Finland? Why a vegetarian? These things just happen.
And people even write and say how fond you must be of him. Fond of him?
He must stay in the village, so boards with the Summerhayes — a couple with little experience of providing for paying guests and less talent. Maureen Summerhayes is delightful but scatterbrained, and her untidiness and lack of organisation drive the obsessively neat Poirot to distraction, while her less than mediocre cooking skills leave him longing for a well-cooked meal and a decent cup of coffee.
Following a clue missed by the police, Poirot soon begins to suspect that the motive for the murder lies in the past.
Children’s Books That Tackle Race and Ethnicity
But which? The recent war has destroyed many records, allowing people with shady pasts to reinvent themselves with reasonable safety from discovery. I enjoyed this one thoroughly.